An NYC community center is helping seniors build small businesses - Business Insider

An NYC community center is helping seniors build small businesses - Business Insider

An NYC community center is helping seniors build small businesses - Business Insider

Posted: 12 Aug 2019 12:04 PM PDT

Some senior citizens move to retirement communities where they play golf or shuffleboard. Other seniors looking to be tech-savvy or start a small business go to Senior Planet.

The MIT Technology Review recently went inside Senior Planet, a retirement community and coworking space founded by Tom Kamber in 2006. At their Manhattan location, seniors can learn everything from finding the "on" button on their computers to creating their own websites. Learning these skills has never been more important for older people, especially as senior entrepreneurs are becoming a bigger part of America's economy.

One regular at Senior Planet, Michael Taylor, used to run an antiques store, but had no choice but to close up shop amid rising rent costs. Despite losing his small business, he had little desire to retire. Instead, he got his master's degree at New York School of Interior Design. As he said in the MIT Technology Review's article, he started going to Senior Planet to get help with website design for an already successful small business.

The research finds that older business owners are more successful — and that continuing to work actually helps mental health.

According to Babson College's 2016 State of Small Business in America report, 51% of small businesses are run by people aged 50 or over, up from 46% in 2007. And those small business are staying open longer than ones founded by younger generations: 70% of senior-run small businesses are still running three years after opening, compared to only 28% of businesses run by younger entrepreneurs.

There are also more senior citizens than ever. Millennials may be the largest group in the labor force at the moment, but older Americans are catching up. According to the US Department of Labor, workers over 55 will be the largest group, at 24.8%, by 2024.

Taylor, now 71 years 0ld, had seen his father retire at age 84. Suddenly having no work aged his father quickly, he told MIT Technology Review. "And I'm like, 'If that's what retirement does for you, I don't want it.' So I plan on working until God calls me home or just until I can't work any longer," he's quoted as saying within the article.

Some experts say that the best way to stay active and prevent the ill effects of aging is to never retire. According to a 2013 study by the Institute of Economic Affairs, a UK think tank, retirees were 40% more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than seniors who put off retirement, which indicates that work is good for mental health in old age.

Entrepreneurship helps combat ageism, too.

While many older Americans are still in the workforce, ageism is keeping them from landing jobs. According to a study by job site iHire, 53% of baby boomers have felt age discrimination at work, including having trouble getting jobs they're qualified for.

Taylor has experienced ageism firsthand. "I found getting a job is not that easy if you're not the 20, 30, or mid-40s candidates," he said in the article.

Senior Planet's goal is make ageism a thing of the past by erasing stereotypes of elderly people who can't use technology or learn new things. Senior Planet founder Tom Kamber told MIT Technology Review that aging does anything but slow you down. In fact, "your horizon is shorter — your dreams become more critical and urgent," he says.

Kamber believes that age is not a barrier to entrepreneurship or success, but occasionally, technology is. "When you're a senior, and you've got an idea, and you want to make it happen," he said, "somebody's got to help out a little bit."

What Small Businesses Should Look for in a CRM Solution - Small Business Trends

Posted: 13 Aug 2019 04:30 AM PDT

Small business owners should always be looking for an edge. Seek whatever increases market competitiveness and provides opportunities to scale. Technological business solutions, such as customer relationship management platforms, are an obvious avenue to explore. But depending on the features they contain, CRM systems can prove a help or a hindrance to the SMB crowd.

Many small business owners assume that CRM solutions, with their many projections, integrations, and automations, are overkill for companies with only a handful of employees. They may instead rely on low-tech tools, such as data-heavy spreadsheets and email category flags, for lead nurturing and customer management.

It makes sense. The success of and demand for CRM systems have driven vendors to capture market share by introducing a plethora of new features. As a result, many highly sophisticated CRM platforms exist to serve the needs of rapidly growing businesses and enterprises, but small business users find their elaborate features to be cumbersome and overwhelming.

What to Look for in a CRM

That doesn't mean that CRM systems are just for industry giants, though. Even the smallest business can benefit from them, as it's critical to establish processes for efficient customer management before scaling. What savvy small business owners need is a way to filter out the overly fancy features of CRM applications and use only what will benefit their operations.

Consider these ways to pare down CRM systems to their must-have features in order to find a software solution that's right for your business right now.

4 CRM Features You Don't need — and Those You Do

1. Ditch the Project Management

A small business doesn't need integrated project management in its CRM solution. PM software and CRM systems have different goals and properties and should really be kept separate, at least at this stage.

Those differences are substantial. A PM system tends to work in terms of projects with contained timelines and specific deliverables. Whereas a CRM solution functions with respect to a long-term customer vision. A PM system offers agile support, task trackers, and budget management tools, while a CRM platform enables customer support, referral tracking, and sales quote and proposal tools. In terms of cost, all-in-one software packages are generally far more expensive than function-specific software. For small businesses, this can be a budget-busting outlay.

All the management you really need in your CRM system is calendar management. Because you need to meet with leads regularly for sales or follow-up purposes, calendar functionality is critical for responding to existing and potential customers in a timely manner. Calendars can also sync for all sales team members, making it easy to coordinate efforts.

2. Opt for Reminders Over Automation

Automation is another too-special feature of CRM platforms that won't serve you well at this stage. It is useful for big businesses, but small ones can forgo it, undercutting complexity and cost in the process. As Tyler King, CEO and co-founder of Less Annoying CRM, observes, "Not only is heavy automation expensive and confusing, it also eliminates the human touch that makes small businesses unique. Your personal interactions, rather than light-speed efficiency, give you a competitive edge."

Instead, rely on the reminders that are built into CRM systems. These allow you to effectively schedule interactions — and the all-important follow-ups that lead to conversions — with the customers in your pipeline.

3. Save Lead Scoring for the Future

The lead scoring and segmentation features of CRM systems are unnecessary when lead volume is fairly low. "Unlike businesses with huge marketing budgets and teams, SMBs are unlikely swimming in qualified leads," says Cathy Reisenwitz, a former Capterra analyst. "This makes it all the more important to ensure no lead falls through the cracks," rather than assigning numerical priorities to every lead.

Down the road, when your operation scales up, you may pursue lead scoring, but for now, you should focus on lead and task management. Lead management tools allow you track lead behavior and activity, while task management enables you to coordinate your efforts and make sure your team stays on track with all leads.

4. Prioritize Consent Tools over Email Integration

Lastly, many CRM systems offer email marketing integration, but this generally isn't needed for a small business. It can always be integrated later. Maybe when your business has grown well past 100 customers and you feel comfortable with CRM basics.

Instead, a more helpful feature for small businesses is a consent tool to ensure compliance. For example, Europe's GDPR law has forced all companies that do business in the European Union or have EU customers to comply. Such laws can significantly restrict email marketing efforts.

CRM solutions can support compliance, such as by adding a consent checkbox when users sign up for your service. This allows customers to quickly, easily grant consent for you to use their data, as is required by GDPR.

Don't be daunted by the many CRM options available on the market. By prioritizing simplicity, you start to manage your customer base and set yourself up for success when you scale. At that point, if you need further functionality, you can always add it in.


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